Wednesday, February 3, 2016
PIERCE TO COACH BOMBER QUARTERBACKS
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Wednesday that Pierce is switching to be the team's quarterbacks coach after two seasons overseeing the running backs.
"It'll be good,'' Pierce said at a press conference. "When I retired, this is the point that I wanted to get to, back in that quarterback room.
"The last two years have been great for me and I've learned a lot.''
The 34-year-old retired in March 2014 after nine seasons in the CFL that were interrupted by a variety of injuries, including concussions.
The last few seasons haven't been kind to Winnipeg's quarterbacking crew or the team, which has missed the playoffs for four straight years and six of the past seven seasons.
Last year's squad had its quarterback depth tested when starter Drew Willy suffered a season-ending fracture and partial torn ligament in his right knee on Aug. 9.
Winnipeg used backups Brian Brohm (released last month) and Robert Marve (retired last September) and made a trade with Edmonton to bring in veteran Matt Nichols. The upheaval was one of the reasons the Bombers finished 5-13.
Willy is on the road to recovery and Pierce is looking forward to working with him and Nichols, a who was a pending free agent before being re-signed last month.
"At the end of the day, my job is to help whoever's playing that position be successful,'' Pierce said.
"For Drew, he does a lot of really good things. He could be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, in my eyes. And now it's just part of my job to get him there.''
Pierce started his playing career with the B.C. Lions in 2005, joined Winnipeg as a free agent in 2010 and was traded back to B.C. part way through the 2013 season.
When he hung up his helmet, his resume featured 15,289 yards passing and 76 touchdown tosses in 130 games.
Pierce married a woman from Winnipeg in 2013 and they have a 10-month-old daughter. He was involved in a local restaurant but said he gave that up when he got too busy coaching.
His new role brings him back together with re-hired offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice, whom he played under as Winnipeg's starter during the 2010-12 seasons.
"I had a great relationship with coach LaPolice,'' Pierce said. "Having the ability to work with him again, I think one of his biggest things was he was very relatable as a coach and player.''
Making that connection with players is something he's learned while coaching Winnipeg's running backs.
"I think the biggest thing is, as a player you knew how to prepare yourself and you've been doing that your whole life and now you have to prepare a number of guys,'' Pierce said.
"I think you become a better teacher - your communication skills, how you deal with certain individuals and put them in situations to be successful.''
The former fan favourite isn't viewing the new job as a step toward becoming a head coach one day.
"How I look at it is I'm the quarterbacks coach right now and I'm excited about being in this role,'' Pierce said. "It's something that I always wanted to do and been fortunate enough to do just two years after retiring from playing.''